Naughty Saint Nick: Bad Santa 2 Shot with VariCam 35 Cameras

The long-awaited sequel to the 2003 holiday cult classic, Bad Santa (directed by Terry Zwigoff), Bad Santa 2 is directed by Mark Waters (Vampire AcademyMean Girls) and once again pairs Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) and his little helper Marcus (Tony Cox), who reunite to rob a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve. Academy Award winner Kathy Bates joins the cast as Willie’s foul-mouthed mother, Sunny Soke, and Brett Kelly reprises his role as Thurman Merman. The dark comedy was shot by Theo Van de Sande, ASC (BladeCruel Intentions, Wayne’s World) with Panasonic VariCam 35 4K cinema cameras.

Not long after Van de Sande was told that he would need to use a camera with 4K resolution or more, he attended Panasonic’s launch of the VariCam 35 at the ASC Clubhouse. “At the event, [Panasonic Senior Technologist] Steve Mahrer told me about the native 5,000 ISO setting, which had practically no noise,” recalls Van de Sande. “I couldn’t believe it, because in order to achieve such a low light sensitivity of 5,000 ISO, you have to give something up — whether it’s dynamic range, resolution, or color. I looked at the camera image on a 4K monitor and thought wow, this is indeed unbelievable.”

BS2-05206 Billy Bob Thornton, Director Mark Waters and members of the crew on the set of BAD SANTA 2, a Broad Green Pictures and MIRAMAX release. Credit: Jan Thijs | Broad Green Pictures / Miramax

Bad Santa 2 was shot in Montreal in the winter of early 2016 with three VariCam 35 camera bodies rented from VER in Glendale, California. According to Van de Sande, his camera crew picked up the VariCam technology in no time and even had ideas on how to improve the system. “One night the temperature was -28 degrees Celsius and everything fell apart,” he says. “The dolly stopped working and the lenses froze so you couldn’t even focus. But the camera kept shooting without any protection. The VariCam comes from sports and ENG — and its technology is more rugged than traditional cinema cameras.” VariCam draws upon the 30 plus years of ruggedized ENG/EFP camera design requirements.

Read the full story on how Van de Sande used VariCam cameras to film Bad Santa 2.

Click here for more information on the Panasonic VariCam 35.

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